12/07/18 - 12:25
Brest - Mûr-de-Bretagne
Tour de France • Stage6

Brest - Mûr-de-Bretagne

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Chris Froome actually missed a slight split and so will lose five seconds to the likes of Thomas, Porte, Quintana, Nibali, Fuglsang, Landa, Yates etc. Uran recovered to conceded 11 seconds, so just three seconds more than Froome.


Confirmation of the top 10 of today's stage to Mur-de-Bretagne.


Julian Alaphilippe was fourth and missed out on the bonus seconds he needed to move into yellow. Greg van Avermaet finished in the chasing pack alongside the likes of Yates, Sagan, Landa, Quintana and Porte, so he will keep the yellow jersey.


Romain Bardet, Rigoberto Uran and Tom Dumoulin all lost time. It looked like Chris Froome finishes safely with Geraint Thomas.


Pierre Latour (Ag2R-La Mondiale) is second and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) third ahead of the group of (most of the) GC favourites.


Victory for Dan Martin of UAE Team Emirates.


Valverde now chases behind...


Martin still leads with Pierre Latour in pursuit.


Dumoulin is being paced by Kragh Andersen.


Martin leads going under the flamme rouge with Yates, Porte and Vuillermoz behind. Thomas too and Valverde. Bardet dropped!


Dan Martion now dances clear. Yates is htere and Sagan not too far back.


Richie Porte is alongside his team-mate Van Avermaet in yellow. Porte now ups the tempo and he has Thomas just behind.


Daniel Oss drives the pace with Alaphilippe and Omar fraile just behind.


Dumoulin is still off the back as the riders hit the final climb for a second time (Cat.3, 2km at 6.9%).


Team Sky are driving the pace now as are Dimension Data, who seem to be working for Edvald Boasson Hagen and Tom Jelte Slagter.


Problems for Bardet! He needs a bike change and will need to fight back. He manages to change bikes with a team-mate and so it's not as bad as Dumoulin but hardly ideal.


Jack Bauer is caught as Bora lead the chase on an unhill drag. Illnur Zakarin is near the front too.


Thomas very near the front and helping to drive a fast pace. Dumoulin is 35 seconds behind and it's a mini disaster for him.


Puncture for Tom Dumoulin! He changes a wheel with Simon Geschke but the Dutchman will struggle to fight back on. He will lose time - and that's really unlucky because he was the best placed of the GC riders, just 13 seconds down on GVA this morning.


The pace is very high - around 65kmph - as they take on a long twisting gradual descent that loops around ahead of the second climb. Bauer still has 13 seconds but it won't be anywhere near enough. Even another minute would be tight.


The relative calm before the storm. Bauer still has 18 seconds as Bora lead the chase. Bora, I suppose, have two cards to play today: Sagan, if it's a strong headwind and he's got the legs, or Majka, if it favours the smaller, lighter climbers.


Jack Bauer goes through the bonus sprint point with a 25-second gap on the pack. He takes the 3sec bonus and then, when the peloton comes, it's Geraint Thomas who zips clear to take second place and 2secs bonus. That puts the Welshman at three seconds of Van Avermaet's yellow jersey.


Bauer asks Skujins for a hand but the Latvian shakes his head. His work is done and he's happy to drop back. So it's the New Zealander who rides clear himself ahead of the bonus sprint, which is coming right up.


Yes, the Latvian rides over the finish line/summit to take the maximum 2pts ahead of a Mitchelton-Scott rider, probably Jack Bauer. So, Skujins now leads the KOM competition outright and will be in polka dots again tomorrow.


Toms Skujins now comes to the front in anticipation of the KOM points.


Grellier is grilled! He's been caught, passed and dropped by the pack.


Grellier goes under the flamme rouge but that's not 1km to go to the finish, just 1km to the first crossing of the summit. There will be another loop before the finale.


Grellier and Smith are the only remaining escapees as the pack closes in. Off the back riders are being distanced like stones sinking in water.


We're onto the first ascent of the Cat.3 Mur-de-Bretagne Guerledan climb (2km at 6.9%). The pack trail lone leader Grellier by 25 seconds.


Fabian Grellier has soloed clear of the three other remaining escapees - one last throw of the die as he approaches the climb. Behind, it's Team Sky on the front with Movistar poised.


The road is already quite steep as the riders pass through the town of Mur-de-Bretagne but this is not the official climb yet. It drops down first before the long, straight ascent to the summit.


Just 45 seconds now for the four leaders (Gaudin has been dropped) as they near the start of the first passage of the climb.


Lots of riders have been shelled out of the back of the pack now - most of the sprinters, to be fair. The chasing Astana train also passed a UAE Team Emirates rider needing a bike change. It didn't look like Dan Martin - that would have been a blow for the Irishman.


Gaviria now pulling on the front, which is nice top see. The Colombian knows he can't win today but he's prepared to do work for his team-mates - returning the favours that he usually receives.


It's an Astana TTT now as Fuglsang battles to rejoin the pack. They're still 30 seconds back and so there's a lot of work to be done. Another blow to the team following the early withdrawal of Luis Leon Sanchez earlier in the week.


Jakob Fuglsang has three Astana team-mates with him as they ride back towards the back of the peloton, which is all strung out now that the pace is up.


Rudy Molard also went down at the same spot. The FDJ rider fell badly a few days ago and so that's a blow for him. Meanwhile, the break has come back together - but their gap is down to 1'20".


CRASH: Yves Lampaert and Jakob Fuglsang have gone down. It's a new strip of road and there's quite a drop off the side where it has been laid. Both riders appear to have dropped off the ledge and onto some gravel and then into a ditch. They're ok but will need to fight back on ahead of the first climb to Mur-de-Bretagne.


Gaudin has been caught - and now dropped alongside Turgis as the road heads uphill on a long, straight slog through a densely packed forest.


We spoke to Alejandro Valverde - who finished fourth yesterday - at the start. "Yesterday was a good day for me but today is more favourable for me. We're not going to overdo it to try for the win but if we get some luck and we're in a good position we're probably going to give it a go. With a couple of loops I don't think it's going to be as hard to get up onto the front. There will be some changes on GC but the differences will only be small."


It's still the familiar faces of Tim De Clercq and the Belgian national champion Yves Lampaert on the front of the pack for Quick-Step helping to pave the way for their punchy finishers. They trail lone leader Gaudin by 1'50" with the four-man chase group still about 20 seconds behind the Frenchman.


Lone leader Gaudin has 18 seconds on the four chasers, who include his team-mate Grellier. Direct Energie trying the exact same tactics as yesterday when Chavanel went up the road first to pave the way for Calmejane...


It bodes well if you win at Mur-de-Bretagne - just as Cadel Evans...


When the pack comes to the sprint it's Alexander Kristoff who takes 10 points for sixth ahead of Gaviria (9pts) and Sagan (8pts). Sagan's Bora team-mate Daniel Oss comes next before Andre Greipel rolls over just ahead of the pack.


Turgis leads the chase on Gaudin, who's a big unit and will be difficult to neutralise. A winner of the epic Tro-Bro Leon race over the farm tracks of Brittany a couple of years ago.


Local Breton rider Laurent Pichon takes the intermediate sprint with ease for Fortuneo-Samsic - prompting a counter move from Damien Gaudin, who rides clear of the other escapees.


The break are one click away from the sprint. Back with the pack Dimension Data have come to the front, which is odd. Perhaps Cavendish is going to stretch his legs - after all, he hasn't had much of a chance to do so in this race so far. He's not going for green this year but he needs to refind his competitive edge and this would be a good place to train.


In just over an hour - lets say around 73 minutes - we will find out who wins this sixth stage. But for now, let's focus on the intermediate sprint which is just coming up. With the breakaway mopping up the points for the first five riders there will still be a maximum 10pts up for grabs for the first rider in the peloton to cross the line - and someone like Gaviria could really do with those to keep the pressure up on Sagan in the battle for green.


The gap is still 1'50" as Bahrain Merida, Ag2R-La Mondiale and Lotto Soudal all come to the front alongside Quick-Step. They will all have high hopes for Messrs Nibali, Bardet and Vanendert respectively today...


The time gaps were not huge the last time the Tour came to Mur-de-Bretagne but by using the climb twice it should really change the way it's ridden. There's also the small matter of the challenging closing circuit in between, where most of the action could actually take place. It should be great viewing.


Just a momentary ceasefire for Quick-Step Floors?


Mechanical or call or nature for Warren Barguil, who is being paced back to the pack by a Fortuneo-Samsic team-mate. He'll be motivated for a win in his native Brittany today and the climb should suit his characteristics.


There has been a fair bit of argy-bargy between BMC and Quick-Step on the front of the pack, the Belgian team trying to get the team-mates of the yellow jersey to lend more of a hand. For now there appears to be a truce. The gap for the five leaders - Smith, Pichon, Grellier, Gaudin and Turgis - is 1'45".


CRASH: It's really not happening for Primoz Roglic today. The pace in the pack slows after a corner and some road furniture, and the Slovenian comes off when trying to bunny hop over a central reservation. He's ok but his bike isn't. Having buried themselves to bring him back in the first place, his LottoNL-Jumbo team-mates are none too impressed, leaving him to get on with it and try to ride back on his own.


So, who else should we watch on the final climb? Besides all the usual suspects - Alaphilippe, Gilbert, Valverde, Martin, Van Avermaet etc - we should perhaps keep an eye out for the likes of Jelle Vanendert, Rigo Uran, David Gaudu, perhaps even Adam Yates. I guess we shouldn't also rule out Peter Sagan - he appears to be able to do anything - but the gradient may be too much for him.


After a fierce chase it appears that the second Roglic group has managed to rejoin the peloton. Quick-Step instigated those splits in the crosswinds but after some initial help from Team Sky it all fizzed out. So, just the five-man break out ahead now - with 2'15" to play with.


These blustery winds are a mere amuse-bouche...


We don't have any more categorised climbs until that double ascent to Mur-de-Bretagne but the road is still quite lumpy. Just 2'25" for the five leaders with the second pack (being led by Primoz Roglic's LottoNL-Jumbo team-mates) a further minute back.


It's quite odd to see Quick-Step pull so hard when Roglic appears to be the only big-name rider to be missing out. The Belgian team has aspirations for the stage win today - they don't want to burn all their matches too early.


Nibali, Quintana, Landa and Kruijswijk were in the second group but that group managed to get back on to the main pack. It's the third group which Roglic is in and which is now merely the single chasing group, over a minute down.


Video - Ask Sagan: Hilarious Sagan gets personal about his morning routine...


The increase in tempo has sounded the death knell for the five-man break whose advantage is down to just 3'40" having so recently been above seven minutes.


The main pack seems to include most of the big names: Froome, Thomas, Dumoulin, Uran, Majka, Fuglsang, Porte, Valverde, Landa, Quintana, Yates, Bardet, Kruijswijk, Mollema, Martin, Zakarin... We're being told that Roglic is there but that's clearly not the case. Sagan is there, of course. The chasing pack is a minute down.


So, Valverde appears to have not been caught out, but some others have...


LottoNL-Jumbo - most notably Primoz Roglic - are in the third peloton as are riders from Astana and Movistar. We're not sure if it's Quintana, Landa, Valverde, Fuglsang et al yet - but by the way Sky are riding on the front of the main pack, we imagine that some big-name riders have been caught out.


Sky and Bora are riding hard with Quick-Step on the front so it appears that Movistar have been caught out in this one. There's a second peloton about 20 second behind now and another a further 30 seconds back. Meanwhile the break's gap is down to five minutes.


Here's the result of that increase in tempo in the winds: groups all over the road.


The pack has split into three it seems - and the gaps are quite large. Superb stuff from Quick-Step who have piled on the hurt on a sixpence.


And here it is! The peloton has split to pieces! After a tight right-hand corner stretched out the peloton out in a long line, Quick-Step throw down the hammer in crosswinds and they have caused chaos!


Quick-Step doing a great job in increasing the tempo here and you sense that something is afoot...


Send in the cavalry! Quick-Step Floors have now come to the front of the peloton to lead the chase. They won't want the gap to grow any bigger because they have aspirations for a whole host of riders today: Julian Alaphilippe, Philippe Gilbert and Bob Jungels could all move into the yellow jersey today if they win the stage.


Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) takes the point over the summit putting the New Zealander onto four points in the KOM standings - tied with both Toms Skujins and Sylvain Chavanel. I think that will put him back in polka dots - unless the rider who wins today's stage also crosses the first summit of the climb to Mur-de-Bretagna in pols position.


The break has a lead of 7'05" as it gets onto the Cat.4 Cote de Roc'h Trevezel (2.5km at 3.5%). The climb, despite what I said in that tweet, does not appear to head up to the chapel.



There have been practically as many tractors on display as there have been cyclists today. Big agricultural heartland is Brittany - and it looks like a bucolic idyll in this summer sunshine. The gap is just a few seconds short of seven minutes now for the five leaders.


BMC have one rider on the front of the peloton before a sea of Sky and Movistar riders in his wake. The gap is up to 6'50" for the five leaders: four Frenchmen and a New Zealander.


It's Nairo Quintana's time to chase back on after either a mechanical or a call of nature. The Colombian has no Movistar team-mates with him - which is kind of par for the course - but should be ok. Quintana was caught out on the opening stage with an unfortunate double-wheel break which cost him dearly. He's currently down in 33rd place some 2'10" behind leader Greg van Avermaet.


Mechanical for local rider Warren Barguil of Fortuneo-Samsic who drops back to the team cars. His form has been patchy since joining the pro-continental team from Sunweb over the winter, but he'll be hoping for a strong finish today. Barguil won two stages last year en route to securing the polka dot jersey - at Foix on Bastille Day and atop the Col d'Izoard.


A reminder of the five riders in today's break: Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Samsic), Damien Gaudin and Fabien Grellier (Direct Energie), Anthony Turgis (Cofidis) and Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert). They have six minutes over the pack having covered 42.8km in the opening hour of racing.


Grellier puts in an early attack on the steep section of the climb. Smith manages to reel him in as the road flattens out and then rides clear to take - with relative ease - the maximum two points over the top of the climb. That puts him on three points in the KOM standings with another point available up the road before the double-ascent of the finale (which could prove a beyond Smith). Still, take that point and he too will be on 4pts at the top of the standings - but will lead by virtue of his superior GC position and the more recent nature of his scalps. Unless, of course, the same rider goes over both those Cat.3 ascents of Mur-de-Bretagne in pole position...


The break are onto the Cat.3 Cote de Ploudiry (1.5km at 7%).


With Dion Smith just 2'43" down on GC, the Kiwi is the virtual leader of the Tour on the road. That climb is coming right up. Expect Smith to do his best to win back that polka dot jersey.


The five leaders - who have been out since kilometre zero - now have 5'47" over the pack as they approach the foot of the first of four categorised climbs.


Julian Alaphilippe - one of the favourites for the win today - is currently off the back of the peloton after a mechanical. Should he or a team-mate win today and it will be Quick-Step Floors' 50th win of the season.


The climb to Mur-de-Bretagne was last used in 2015 when Alexis Vuillermoz held on to take the win for Ag2R-La Mondiale, coming home five seconds clear of Dan Martin and 10 seconds clear of the Alejandro Valverde-led chase group. Intriguingly, the entire top 10 from that day are riding in this year's Tour: Vuillermoz, Martin, Valverde, Sagan, Gallopin, Van Avermaet, Yates, Froome, Mollema and Van Garderen. That gives you an idea with the kind of rider who should win today...


Some more info on today's final climb to Mur-de-Bretagne, which the riders tackle twice in the final 20km.


In the final classification to bring you up to speed with, Denmark's Soren Kragh Andersen - an impressive eighth yesterday at Quimper - stays in the white jersey. The Sunweb rider leads the youth standings by 1'08" over Egan Bernal of Team Sky. Another Dane, Magnus Cort Nielsen of Astana, is third at 1'39".


On Le Gac's cameo on the front just now...


The gap is already up to five minutes for the five escapees who seem to have picked the right day to get in the break.


There are seven KOM points up for grabs over today's four categorised climbs. Latvia's Toms Skujins (Trek Segafredo) currently wears the polka dot jersey on default of his higher GC position than Sylvain Chavanel, who is also on four points. But this break includes Dion Smith, the New Zealander who was previously in the jersey, and so perhaps he's targeting a return to the podium. Smith currently has just the one single point. Here was Skujins at the start...


Some Tour traditions thankfully never end...


On that man Sagan, he now leads the green jersey standings by 180 points to Fernando Gaviria's 147 points. It's increasingly looking like a two-horse race what with third place Alexander Kristoff back on 78 points.



The gap is up to 2'40" for the five escapees. It's another sunny day in Brittany with the temperature in the mid 20s.


Peter Sagan, the green jersey and double stage winner, is currently remonstrating with the Team Sky car, apparently not happy about something they've done. In the two sprints he didn't win, the world champion finished second: the kind of consistency that has delivered him five green jerseys to date. It's his 91st day in green today - out of 113.


For a second day running Direct Energie have two riders in the break after Fabien Grellier is one of the four chasers who join Gaudin out ahead. The others are Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Samsic) and Anthony Turgis (Cofidis).


Four riders have zipped clear in pursuit of Gaudin and it looks like that's it: the peloton is rolling along with a flat front showing no interest in sending anyone else clear. Sometimes it really is that simple.


They're off! And as soon as Christian Prudhomme waves the flag there's an attack from Frenchman Damien Gaudin of Direct Energie.


A quick reminder of the general classification after five stages: Greg van Avermaet leads BMC team-mate Tejey Van Garderen by two seconds and fellow Belgian Philippe Gilbert by three seconds. Geraint Thomas and Julian Alaphilippe complete the top five at five seconds and six seconds respectively.


Here was the scene as the riders rolled out of Brest about 10 minutes ago.


The peloton is currently making its way through the long 9km neutral section ahead of the official start. Here's more on the profile for today's second lumpy day in Brittany.

Video - Tour de France 2018: Stage 6 profile


For a stage starting in Brest, this has a suitable double ascent in the finale. Cadel Evans won at Mur-de-Bretagne on the climb's Tour debut in 2011 en route to securing the yellow jersey in Paris, while Frenchman Alexis Vuillermoz took the spoils when the climb last featured three years ago. The map below shows the final 20km and those back-to-back ascents, which sandwich another sharp climb at the top of which the bonus sprint features – making it all the more feisty. Before the thrilling finale, some lumpy roads and two lower-category climbs should tease a break from the peloton. The old adage of the race not being won, but potentially being lost, could ring true today: the likes of Vincenzo Nibali, Romain Bardet and Geraint Thomas all lost time at Mur-de-Bretagne in 2015.

Tour de France 2018 Stage 6 profile

Here's the official profile of the 181km stage, which finishes with a double ascent to Mur-de-Bretagne.


Yesterday, Peter Sagan strengthened his hold on the green jersey with another emphatic win in Stage 5 after denying Sonny Colbrelli and Philippe Gilbert on a tough uphill finish in Brittany. The indefatigable Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) launched from the wheel of yellow jersey Greg van Avermaet (Quick-Step Floors) before powering past the plucky Italian Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida) to take his second win of the race and show just why he is the triple world champion. Read all about it below...


Bonjour le Tour! Hello and welcome to live coverage of Stage 6 of the Tour de France - the first stage of the 105th edition of the race in a post England-are-out-of-the-World-Cup era. To be fair, it's a surprise that any of the Grande Boucle corresponded with England still being in the World Cup, but hey. Enough football. If it's coming home, it's to Brittany, the spiritual home of cycling. So let's do this...